BY: FERN SIDMAN
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was greeted with great enthusiasm and thunderous applause at the concluding banquet of the 2011 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington last night. "America! We're with you, this day and every day", he said, mentioning the tragic death tolls in the aftermath of the tornados in Joplin, Missouri.
Thanking his "good friends", Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Speaker of the House John Boehner, (R-OH) he said that "Israel thanks you for your deep commitment to its security". Embellishing on the unbreakable United States/Israel relationship, Netanyahu said, "Israel is America's indispensable ally" and thus, the two nations should stand "shoulder to shoulder" and protect their common interests. On a lighter note, the Prime Minister mentioned that he and his wife toured Washington, visiting the monuments to America's founding leaders and said that, "I read the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said, 'we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal', and these exalted principles were "first championed by the Jewish people; that we are all created in G-d's image", adding that "Israel is the cradle of our civilization".
"Today, one million Muslims enjoy full democratic rights in Israel; Christians are free to practice their faith; all because of the shared principles of democracy that bind us," he said. Receiving a great round of applause, the Prime Minister said, "these rights go forth from the one, united city of Jerusalem".
Saying that "Israel and America share deep well springs of our common values as we have forged an enduring friendship, not just between our governments, but between our peoples."
At one point in his speech, he stopped and heaped accolades upon Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut; one of Israel's greatest friends and allies in the US Senate and said there is hope for uniting, 'even independents like you, Joe"
"The American people's support for Israel is reflected in my invitation to address a joint meeting of Congress tomorrow" he said. "I will talk about the great convulsion taking place in the Middle East; I will talk about the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran. I will also outline a vision for a secure Israeli-Palestinian peace. I will speak the unvarnished truth. Now, more than ever, what we need is clarity', he added
"Since the days of Harry Truman', said the Prime Minister, "there has been broad support for Israel in the US and they have stood by us as we meet the challenges of the future" He also thanked President Obama and Congress "for vital assistance so Israel can defend herself, by herself".
Making special mention of the "Irondome" missile defense system, the Prime Minister related a recent incident in which Hamas rockets were intercepted in mid-air.
Speaking of the cooperation and state of the art advancements in science, trade, technology and investments, Netanyahu said, "not only do American companies invest in Israeli companies, but Israeli companies have invested $50 billion in American companies, helping to stimulate the US economy."
In the field of medical research and development, he spoke of the rapid advancements in research of Alzheimer's disease and cancer and spoke of the Israeli invention of a "tiny diagnostic camera that can fit inside a pill" and of the "miraculous bandage that helped to save the life of Arizona congresswoman Gabriella Giffords" who was the victim of an attempted assassination in January.
On the political front, the Prime Minister spoke of the "great convulsion in the Middle East" and "the dangers of a nuclear powered Iran". The simple truth, he said is, "the problems of the region are not rooted in Israel". Illustrating the yearnings for "freedom, progress and a better life" by peoples throughout North Africa and the Middle East, he said that their aspirations are not related to Israel but to their own brutal governments and despotic leadership.
In an indirect manner, he took issue with US President Obama by intoning,"peace between Israel and the Palestinians is not a panacea for problems in the Middle East. Israel is not what is wrong with the Middle East but what is right about the Middle East." Expressing his desire for a just and lasting peace, the Prime Minister said, "We want peace; we know the agony of war; the pain of terror". Stating that the impasse of peace negotiations rests squarely on the shoulders of the Palestinians, he declared, "peace has not been achieved because they (the Palestinians) refuse to recognize the Jewish state".
Firing yet another salvo at President Obama for his recent shift in foreign policy towards Israel that was outlined in his now infamous speech delivered on May 19th, the Prime Minister declared, "Israel must be left with defensible borders and this cannot be achieved with the 1967 lines".
Thanking the US for condemning Hamas in the most vociferous of terms, he also spoke of the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held by Hamas for five years with not a single visit from the Red Cross. “The whole world should join together with a simple message for Hamas: release Gilad Shalit!” called Netanyahu.